A Hunt for Optimism by Viktor Shklovsky

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Synopsis

Begun in 1929 under the title "New Prose," and drastically revised after Vladimir Mayakovsky's sudden death, A Hunt for Optimism (1931) circles obsessively around a single scene of interrogation in which a writer is subjected to a show trial for his unorthodoxy. Using multiple perspectives, fragments, and aphorisms, and bearing the vulnerability of both the Russian Jewry and the anti-Bolshevik intelligentsia -- who had unwittingly become the "enemies of the people" -- Hunt satirizes Soviet censorship and the ineptitude of Soviet leaders with acerbic panache. Despite criticism at the time that it lacked unity and was too "variegated" to be called a purely "Shklovskian book," Hunt is stylistically unpredictable, experimentally bold, and unapologetically ironic -- making it one of the finest books in Shklovsky's body of work.

 

About Viktor Shklovsky

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Viktor Shklovsky (1893-1984) was a leading figure in the Russian Formalist movement of the 1920s and had a profound effect on twentieth-century Russian literature. Several of his books have been translated into English, including Zoo, or Letters Not about Love, Third Factory, Theory of Prose, A Sentimental Journey, Energy of Delusion, and Literature and Cinematography, and Bowstring. Shushan Avagyan translates from Armenian and Russian. She is the translator of Viktor Shklovsky's Bowstring: On the Dissimilarity of the Similar, and other works available from Dalkey Archive Press.
 
Published January 3, 2013 by Dalkey Archive Press. 160 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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